ADHD and Diet

Written by on November 21, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


When it comes to managing ADHD successfully, the cornerstones are medication and finding ways to reduce the impact of symptoms on daily living, such as setting routines for children or adults adopting strategies to stay better organized in their personal and professional lives. For many who suffer from this condition however, current strategies often leave something to be desired; this is where interest in natural methods typically begins to make an appearance.

A lot has been said about the role of diet in treating ADHD; while not enough research exists to make any conclusive recommendations, studies and expert recommendations have provided some suggestions that may be worth considering. It is important to remember that you will need to exercise diligence and patience when experimenting with diet as  a therapeutic aid; things will not change overnight and you may have to try different strategies. It is also important to remember that different interventions may not work for everyone.

Protein-Rich Diet

A protein-rich diet may help manage symptoms of ADHD by improving the ability to concentrate and possibly increasing the effectiveness of medications used to treat the condition. You want to choose your proteins wisely, however, as many are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. When it comes to animal foods, gravitate towards lean meats, low-fat dairy and go easy on the egg yolks. Good plant sources of this nutrient include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and quinoa.

Eat More Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been getting a lot of press in recent years and while they are most commonly associated with heart health, the brain is one area of the body that has a particularly large store of these beneficial fats and it uses them for a variety of purposes. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may benefit a number of conditions linked to the brain ranging from ADHD to depression. When it comes to getting more through diet, fish such as salmon are the richest sources. There are also plant-based sources such as walnuts, flax seed and hemp seed. Supplementation is also an option but you should check with your doctor before using these supplements and especially before giving them to your child.

Experimenting with an Elimination Diet

The idea that sensitivities and allergies to certain foods can be a cause and/or trigger for worsening of a particular health problem has been gaining traction in recent years; many studies have found that food intolerances seemed to worsen symptoms of various conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or asthma. The same may hold true for ADHD, but this is one area where the ‘’works for some but not for all’’ is particularly applicable.

It is the sensitivity or intolerance to a food that causes issues, not the food itself; if you or your child does not have any issue with the food, eliminating it will likely do nothing. Many people speak of the miraculous transformations they experienced after eliminating gluten or dairy from their diet but you may not achieve the same dramatic results. But, it certainly cannot hurt to try.

An elimination diet involves cutting out common allergens and then reintroducing them back one at a time to see if any of them affect your condition. The most common items include gluten, dairy, soy and corn. Also, when it comes to ADHD in particular, it has been suggested to also experiment with eliminating foods that contain additives, artificial colors, preservatives and basically anything else that has been processed or contains unnatural ingredients.

This is a guest post.  Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who writes  on a variety of health topics; she particularly enjoys sharing information on how diet may help treat health conditions. 

Image courtesy of Ambro /


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